I wrote this in the airport waiting for my one way flight to Singapore this April. I’ve had to resist (strongly) the desire to edit this several months into my experience. But it’s nice to revisit.
Dear Future Me,
I’m writing this from the gate of the first flight in your final move to Singapore. What a ride. We are finally on our way – to live abroad, to leave the country for more than just travel, to finally go all the way past the edge of my comfort zone. I guess in a way I’m kind of proud and impressed – to find that my comfort zone at 34 includes regular solo global travel, picking up and piecing together foreign languages, selling off half of my stuff (after months of regular purges) and buying, and selling, a house. Saying goodbye to so many people for such a long time, and leaving the country — that’s where my comfort zone ends. That’s not half bad.
So here’s a reminder of what we’ve been up to lately. Just in case you forget how hard this was and need the reminder for whatever challenge you are facing now.
In the last 60 days we’ve been back and forth to Singapore twice. We’ve mentally wrestled with a real estate agent who was a master negotiator, but rather crap at finding good places to live. We’ve spent way too much money on massages and Western hotel chains because we haven’t been sleeping enough, but way too little money and time on healthful food and regular gentle exercise. We’ve had no less than four Farewell Parties plus a handful of beers, dinners, and baby snuggles all over the extended metro Atlanta area. And we’ve been drinking like we’re 24 again and eating really old school comfort foods: gummy bears, salt ‘n vinegar potato chips, etc like they are a food group.
We’ve reached complete stress saturation and finally learned to bring the adaptability and “roll with it” attitude into real/non-travel life. It’s a survival mechanism at this point, but that’s ok. That’s all it really ever was, but we’ve been used to using it to have more pleasure on a trip, rather than to have fewer freak-outs.
No. Instead we’ve gotten to the point of reserving freak outs for bigger things. The “I couldn’t make this up if I tried” things. Forget that every. single. errand. you’ve had to run (several dozen of them by now) and every online purchase has been fraught with issues. And it was more or less normal for you to use Skype to call Pottery Barn and order beds from Singapore to be delivered in less than 7 days to Atlanta so that international movers could pick them up and bring them to Singapore. Or that Pottery Barn wouldn’t be able to make that deadline after all and you’d have to cancel the order – again on Skype in the middle of the Singapore night – only to have them delivered on time after all so we’d have to chase down customer service and ASK them to charge us for the beds that were now, after all the confusion, on their way to Singapore yet scheduled to be picked up and returned to North Carolina. Seriously.
Or that we, proud carrier of two carry-ons for 16 days and 4 continents, had to check four bags of luggage and return a rental car in the massive Atlanta airport solo earlier today. A maneuver so complicated it required pre-planning and running scenarios with Dad to make sure it went smoothly.
No. That was just par for the course at this point. We barely batted an eyelash over it.
Instead, remember some of the other choice freak outs:
1. That we thought our housesitter might have accidentally packed e-cigarettes into our company-paid shipment into Singapore: home to the death penalty and 7 day warrant-to-sentencing timeline for drug smuggling.
2. Or that our ex-fiance’s wife randomly requested to be Facebook friends the morning we were leaving for Singapore…
3. … I thought there were at least three. Let’s be grateful that Mother Nature has suppressed the third issue (or it never happened.)
Don’t forget this sensation if you can. This muddled, exhausted, and sad and sweet mix of emotions. That the future may – and hopefully will – hold incredible potential to break into a life we’ve wanted for so long and have been learning to lead so when the opportunity arises (which is now, hopefully) we’ll be ready to live it. But at the same time feel this constant deep ache in our heart to leave family and friends and have to accept that a good deal of life, our life, is about to happen when we are on the other side of the world.
Hope everything is going well. Don’t forget to write back.